“Not quite yet,” he answered. “There will be another hour and a half.”
“Need we have the light on?” she questioned. “It hurts my eyes.”
He put it out, and there they sat in the growing darkness, and did not speak any more for some time; and, bending over her, he saw that she had dozed off again. How very weak she must have been!
He longed to take her into his arms once more, but did not like to disturb her—she seemed to have fallen into a comfortable position among the pillows—so he watched over her tenderly, and presently they came to the lodge gates of Wrayth, and the stoppage caused her to wake and sit up.
“It seems I had not slept for so long,” she said, “and now I feel better. It is good of you to let me come with you. We are in the park, are we not?”
“Yes, we shall be at the door in a minute.”
And then she cried suddenly,
“Oh! look at the deer!” For a bold and valiant buck, startled and indignant at the motor lights, was seen, for an instant, glaring at them as they flashed past.
“You must go to bed as soon as you have had some tea,” Tristram said, “after this long drive. It is half-past six. I telegraphed to have a room prepared for you. Not that big state apartment you had before, but one in the other part of the house, where we live when we are alone; and I thought you would like your maid next you, as you have been ill.”
“Thank you,” she whispered quite low.
How kind and thoughtful he was being to her! She was glad she had been ill!
Then they arrived at the door, and this time they turned to the left before they got to the Adam’s hall, and went down a corridor to the old paneled rooms, and into his own sitting-room where it was all warm and cozy, and the tea-things were laid out. She already looked better for her sleep; some of the bluish transparency seemed to have left her face.
She had not been into this room on her inspection of the house. She liked it best of all, with its scent of burning logs and good cigars. And Jake snorted by the fire with pleasure to see his master, and she bent and patted his head.
But everything she did was filling Tristram with fresh bitterness and pain. To be so sweet and gentle now when it was all too late!
He began opening his letters until the tea came. There were the telegrams from Francis Markrute, sent a week before to say Zara was ill, and many epistles from friends. And at the end of the pile he found a short note from Francis Markrute, as well. It was written the day before, and said that he supposed he, Tristram, would get it eventually; that Zara had had a very sad bereavement which he felt sure she would rather tell him about herself, and that he trusted, seeing how very sad and ill she had been, that Tristram would be particularly kind to her. So her uncle knew, then! This was incredible: but perhaps Zara had told him, in her first grief.